Chillin' for some Chances

Hey everyone! I’m not super urgent about this, I just wanted feedback on my college-resume and a general in-the-ballpark type of chancing for some schools, specifically (in no particular order):


with a prospective double-major in Philosophy+Something (Depending on the school: English/Lit/The Classics, Poli Sci, or Business)

Stuff I was born with: Male, Hispanic, Junior, lower-medium income from Urban L.A.

I go to a pretty competitive math+science magnet highschool, where I primarily learned I didn’t really like math and science.

GPA (This is what I’m mostly worried about, it’s pretty low for the schools I’m interested in due):
3.46 UW, 3.6 W, (I take some classes at a nearby University) Uni: 3.9 UW

SAT (I’m hoping will be the redeeming factor): 2360, I’ve only taken it one time and I plan on retaking for a 2400
CR: 780 M: 800 W: 780

Subject Tests: Likely going to do Lit, Bio E, and World History, however I haven’t taken any yet. (I’m hoping to get 800’s on all of them, but who isn’t?)

ACT: 33 composite
English: 33 Math: 30 Science: 33 Reading: 34

APs: None yet, my school doesn’t offer any until senior year where I’ll be taking AP Spanish, AP Lit, AP phys, AP Stats, and AP Econ/Gov

• Youth and Government program with elected and appointed leadership positions all 3 (potentially 4) years
• Volunteer at a local children’s medical clinic shadowing doctors, doing some lab-related testing stuff, and managing files (basic volunteer stuff) for two years going on three
• Jazz Club 1st Tenor Saxophonist for two years (played for 8 years)
• Dance Team member for two years (I like to get jiggy with it)
• Mock Trial member for two years
• Founder and Administrator of a school forum based around debating and educating peers on current world affairs
• Au paired for a family in Norway over a summer
• National Hispanic Scholar
• Planning on starting local City Council Youth Council chapter over this summer
• Invited to a summer honors college program based on constitutional law and philosophy at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will be attending this summer
• Working for 2 weeks on a family-member’s ranch in Mexico over this summer as well
• Peer edit essays, run various writing workshops locally, and like to write for fun (working on some essays, a novel, and a play)
• I would say I’m pretty well-read in classical and modern literature, well-watched in contemporary and classical film, and well listened in music from all eras and genres, although I am always looking to expand my cultural intake

Thank you guys for any responses! I look forward to hearing anyone’s input



Just to get some momentum going for ya… Reed. Definitely. Please apply. The Claremont Consortium is great, but maybe Pitzer over Pomona?. Occidental bummed my daughter and me out. Take that for what it’s worth. I’m afraid the rest of your list is outside my knowledge base. Have you visited any of these schools?

@Palm715 Yeah! Both of my parents are Oxy Alumns so that’s why I’m on the Oxy train, I’ve visited all of the west-coast schools, east coast comes this summer. I did really like Reed, and the Claremont schools were all very pretty. Thank you for your input!

You have nontrivial chances at Reed and Occidental and some chances at Bowdoin, maybe. The rest would be a total crapshoot for you due to your GPA, but if you want to apply, do it. You lose nothing by sending in an application and you never know. But you need to apply to a bunch of less selective colleges too.

My advice: Do NOT retake the SAT. You already have a 2360, which is great. Colleges do not differentiate between 2350 and a 2400 very strongly, and whatever marginal advantage a 2400 would confer on your application would be wiped out by the blatant weirdness of retaking a 2360. Just don’t do it.

DO pick more realistic reaches, matches and safeties. If you really want to apply to the most selective universities in the US for some reason, UChicago and Stanford would be better for your profile than Yale and Princeton. UChicago might take a chance on you if your essays impress them and Stanford likes picking up people with potential from California. Harvard I could see, in some alternate universe, taking a chance on a 3.46 with impressive intellectual potential, but not Princeton and Yale.

I’ll only recommend applying to Princeton if you have an upward trend in your GPA because I think (this is unconfirmed) that Princeton doesn’t consider freshman-year GPA in admissions.

In any case, you have a lot of work ahead of you because, as I said, your current college list is frighteningly top-heavy. Find more colleges. Try to raise your GPA to 3.5 next semester as well, if that’s mathematically possible.

If by Oxford you mean the University of Oxford, I would actually encourage you to apply because their admission process is idiosyncratic and based on performance on timed essays/tests/interviews rather than grades (assuming you’d be applying for Philosophy and Modern Languages, Phil and Theology, or PPE). Oxford cares about your AP scores and your SAT score if you’re from America, and I could see them accepting you if you impressed them at the interview. (But you’d probably be given a conditional offer contingent on getting 5s on your AP exams.) That being said, can your family afford to send you to university in the UK? Some Oxford colleges offer small bursaries to struggling students, but your family would still have to bear most of the costs, and they’re substantial for an overseas student. Life in the UK is expensive too.

Anyway. As a newly minted Reed graduate, I think you sound like a very good fit for Reed. If you end up going there, I think it will be a good outcome.

It is true that your GPA is not an issue at Oxford, but it is probably not a runner unless you change your subject tests/APs: you are very weak on essay based exams (Lit is the only one, though I’m not sure what AP you mean by Econ/Gov) and for any of the Philosophies/Politics that is essential. Oxford will only be interested in tests related - by content or category- to the subject you are applying to study, and the courses you are considering would all be essay-based (well, you could apply for Phil/Phys, but then you would have to take the PAT).

fyi, Oxford application deadline is October 15, and all the phil/pol variants also have an admissions aptitude test in November (PAT / TSA / MLAT or Philosophy, depending on the exact subject you apply to).

@Ghostt is right about money: the bursaries available won’t be enough to cover your airfare, and there are extra fees for being an international student. Be prepared for $40-50k pa (but for only 3 years, unless you do phil + modern languages, which is 4).

Thank you for your input! Any suggestions for schools I should be looking at that are good for Philosophy and weigh GPA lower than other application factors? Something I didn’t include in the initial college list is that my dream school is Deep Springs College. Again, thank you for your feedback!

I applied to Deep Springs during my application process, and got through the first round, which I thought was remarkable because my grades were really not the best (hello awful junior year), and were only salvaged by my senior year grades, which, still, were not up to the mark. They really don’t seem to care about your academic accomplishments as long as you demonstrate some degree of academic security (so while I don’t think the current students would admit a 2.5 GPA from a US high school, someone with 3.5 would be considered still). Deep Springs cares a lot more about your essays, and so coming across as an interesting, humble person capable of doing hard labor in the desert, while reading philosophy and other stuff, is a must. I also remember completely bombing my interview–I don’t know what happened, but I’m sure it contributed to the final rejection. Also, if I could redo things, I would not have written about George Herbert Mead in my second round of essays; it probably came off as pretentious, as though I wanted to validate my views under the shade of a famous scholar. I think some schools, like Deep Springs and Grinnell, care so much about having an unpretentious student body that they will boot any applicant who is even a little bit so.